Concept of Love in Augustine's Confessions

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In Confessions, Aurelius Augustine recounts his conversion to Christianity in the world’s very first autobiography. He speaks directly to God through these pages of declarations, and he relinquishes his humanly sins and misgivings in an effort to benefit fellow Christians. He sought the conversion of non-Christians and he also sought prayers for the Christian soul of his deceased mother—whom with he shared a love—albeit, merely of a human nature. On the concept of divine love, Augustine was undoubtedly clear. His absolute love for God and His son, Jesus Christ, was paramount. What was not as readily clear was Augustine’s acknowledgement of love in his human interpersonal relationships. Inferences can be made throughout the text that he shared a warm affection for his mother, but other typically compelling love is not developed. The reader must use the evidence described by Augustine in his Confessions to determine the reason for the lack of both romantic love and parental love.

Through his conversion to Christianity, Augustine developed a consummate love for God. In Confessions he writes to God, using terms of reverence such as his “late-won Joy” (1118) and “supremely lovely, supremely luminous Truth” (1120). He recognizes God’s ultimate omnipotence with passages such as: Wastefulness is a parody of generosity: but You are the infinitely generous giver of all good. Avarice wants to possess overmuch: but You possess all. Enviousness claims that it strives to excel: but what can excel before You? . . . Grief pines at the loss of things in which desire delighted: for it wills to be like to You from whom nothing can be taken away (1120-1121). Repeatedly, Augustine renounces self-pride, believing that the attributes he possesses are indeed endowments given him by God, and therefore do not belong to him, only to God, “by Whom the very hairs of [his] head are numbered” (1116). He calls his advanced mind God’s “gift” (1117) and seeks to unburden himself...
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